I have two simple, quick, nourishing soups today that will hit the spot in this changeable weather. It is nice to be able to make your own soup stock, but if you don’t have the time or ingredients on hand, the cubes are fine.

I sometimes add prawns to this chicken noodle soup, and they work well. Or, you may have some leftover turkey in the freezer. Here, I’m serving it with one of my favourite condiments: peanut rayu, a savoury, Asian-inspired sauce made with sesame oil, chillis, crushed peanuts and sesame seeds. The brand White Mausu peanut rayu is Irish-made and widely available in speciality shops. Or, you could use a drizzle of any chilli sauce.

This carrot and thyme soup makes a good lunch on its own and you can make it ahead of time. There is a lovely sweetness between the carrots and the honey and it is very popular in my house. There is no need to peel the carrots. I like to serve it velvety smooth, with a lovely swirl of yoghurt to lighten the flavour.

Happy cooking,


Chicken noodle soup

Serves four

1 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 celery stick, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1.2 litres (2 pints) chicken stock

100g (4oz) spaghetti

225g (8oz) boneless, skinless chicken fillets, cut into 1cm (1/2in) strips

2 heads of baby pak choi (or use 1 regular size), thinly sliced

small handful fresh coriander leaves

about 1 tsp soy sauce

1 tbsp peanut rayu or chilli sauce (optional)

Neven's chicken noodle soup \ Claire Nash

1 Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium to high heat. Add the onion, celery and garlic and sauté for 4-5 minutes, until softened but not coloured.

2 Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Break the spaghetti into smaller pieces – halves or quarters of original size. Add to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes.

3 Add the chicken strips to the pan, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for another 4–5 minutes, until tender and cooked through.

4 Add the pak choi to the pan. Simmer for one minute, then ladle into bowls and scatter over the coriander leaves.

5 Season with the soy sauce and serve the peanut rayu or chilli sauce for drizzling on top, if liked.

Carrot and thyme soup

Serves four

25g (1oz) butter

1 onion, finely chopped

300g (11oz) carrots, scrubbed well and grated

1 tsp honey

1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

450ml (3/4 pint) vegetable stock

2 tbsp pumpkin seeds

1 tbsp pine nuts

2 tbsp thick Greek-style yoghurt

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Melt the butter in a large pan over a low heat. Add the onion and sweat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2 Add the grated carrots to the pan with honey, vinegar and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and stir well.

3 Pour in the stock, increase the heat to high and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10–15 minutes, until the carrots are completely soft. Using a hand-held blender, blitz until smooth.

4 Heat a small frying pan. Add the pumpkin seeds and pine nuts and toast for 2–3 minutes, tossing constantly. Ladle the soup into bowls and add a swirl of yoghurt to each one, sprinkle over the seeds and nuts. CL

Read more

Lovely leftovers: turkey satay noodles and quesadillas

Simple sides that pack a punch